Kerala blasts: Accused Dominic Martin refuses state legal aid
Suspect Dominic Martin refuses legal aid, self-represents as investigation continues in Jehovah's Witnesses gathering tragedy
Dominic Martin, the prime accused in Kerala’s Kalamassery bomb blasts which killed three and injured over 50, has refused the assistance of a legal aid lawyer and was sent to judicial custody until 29 November on Tuesday by Sessions Court judge Honey M Varghese.
Martin refused a lawyer though the court offered one on several occasions; saying he would represent himself instead. Police told the court that they would be filing an application for a test identification parade before the chief judicial magistrate on Wednesday and thereafter seek Martin's custody.
The police took Martin to his house in Athani to collect evidence. A police officer said the accused had worked abroad for 17 years and was an "extremely intelligent person". He will now be shifted to Kakkanad district jail. On Monday, the police formally recorded the arrest of Martin, who had surrendered a few hours after the blasts on Sunday morning.
The police have invoked section 302 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) (punishment for murder), section 3 of the Explosive Substances Act, and relevant sections of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
On Sunday, a series of blasts occurred at a gathering of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Kalamassery. Initially, the blasts killed a woman, and critically injured six. One of the six, a 53-year-old woman, succumbed to her injuries soon after.
On Monday morning, the death toll rose to three with the death of a 12-year-old girl who had suffered 95 per cent burns in the incident. Currently, 21 persons are under treatment for injuries suffered in the blasts and of them, 16 are being treated in the Intensive Care Unit, a state health department bulletin said. Of the 16, three are in severely critical condition, it said.
Soon after the blasts, Martin, who claimed to be a member of Jehovah’s Witnesses, had surrendered before police in Kerala’s Thrissur district, taking responsibility for the multiple blasts. He had posted his statement on Facebook, too.
Martin told police that he had used 50 small firecrackers, known locally as ‘gundu’, eight litres of petrol and that he set fire to the firecrackers by operating the IED. In his statement to the police, Martin said he had placed the explosives inside plastic bags in the hall.
Though Martin has confessed to the crime and presented all evidence, the investigation teams are yet to conclude that he is the only suspect. Several central agencies are investigating as to why he used an IED (improvised explosive device), as that is a technique commonly used by terrorists.
The agencies are checking Martin’s association with individuals affiliated with such organisations while he was abroad. His mobile phone, including his social media accounts, is being subjected to detailed examination. His relatives and friends are also under surveillance. The chief minister had clarified unless these aspects were thoroughly investigated, the case would not be closed.
An eight-member NSG team inspected the hall where the blast occurred and two specially trained dogs were also brought in during the procedure. Those who attended the convention were permitted to take back their vehicles, which were impounded at the site, only after the central agencies combed the area.